Southampton Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > United Kingdom > Southampton > History

Southampton is immortalised in many fictional and historical books as a port for famous ships and cruiseliners. Today, its long tradition of sailing and shipping has added many new attractions, such as waterfront developments, to its older historical landmarks, such as the Bargate.

Entrance to the City

One of Southampton's most attractive features, is its abundance of green open spaces. Enter on the A33 down The Avenue, which was once a perilous road frequented by highwaymen, and you will come to the Common, a great expanse of open land (encompassing some 326 acres) on which to stroll, picnic and relax. Its attractions include a wildlife centre, a boating lake, fishing lake, duck pond and a large paddling pool complex, which is a great place to take the kids. It also hosts events such as the Southampton Balloon Festival, held in July each year. Common Conservation walks, which are free, are held regularly.

City Centre

Continue down The Avenue and you will eventually arrive at the top of town (about 25 minutes walk). Just off the main high street, on Commercial Road, you will find the City Art Gallery, which boasts a collection of over 2,700 works of art, spanning six centuries. The gallery is accessed through the same entrance as the city library. Just around the corner, in the same complex of buildings, is the Guildhall which is the city's major venue for rock, pop and classical concerts. A five minute walk away, following down Commercial Road, is the Mayflower Theatre, the main venue for many great musicals, ballets and opera. Just behind the theatre is the Gantry Arts Centre, which holds numerous live musical, theatrical and comedy performances.

Walk back to the main high street and carry on further down the town, past the busy shopping precinct, and you will come across the historical Bargate, one of the surviving gateways to the city. Look up when you are walking through and you may see the damage caused by trams, which attempted to pass through the middle until 1949 and sometimes didn't quite make it! Carry on down the high street and you may want to stop off for a drink at The Dolphin Hotel, which was a popular place to stay during the 18th century, when Southampton was a very popular Spa. Famous guests include Jane Austen, who is said to have danced there. A couple of minutes walk away, is another historical place to stop off for a drink or bite to eat - the Red Lion, which is the oldest pub in Southampton and still retains its 14th century vaults.

Other places of interest in the lower part of town, are the Tudor House Museum, which gives a fascinating insight into 15th century life, and the Maritime Museum. This gives a history of the development of the port and tells in detail the story of the famous Titanic, which began its ill-fated voyage from Southampton in 1912. Also around this part of town, you can walk along the old walls. For an informative stroll, take a Heritage walk of Old Southampton. These are organised by the tourist office and last for about an hour and a half. They are free, start from the Bargate, and are held throughout the year.

Waterfront

At the bottom of town you come to Southampton's waterfront, where there is much to see and do. Mayflower Park sits on the water's edge and is a popular place to watch famous cruiseliners, such as the QE2 and Oriana, as they set sail from their home port. It also hosts the annual Southampton Boat Show each September. Adjacent to the park, ferries leave for the Isle of Wight, just in case you fancy a day-trip. Further along, you will find the Town Quay, which replaced Southampton's old and dilapidated pier. It sits out on the water and is a lovely place to enjoy a drink or evening meal.

Walk further along the waterfront (about 10 minutes) and you will come to Ocean Village, one of Britain's biggest marina developments. It has many attractions, including two cinemas and an abundance of good restaurants and bars, as well as a small shopping centre. Major sailing events start from here, such as the BT Global Challenge yacht race and the Volvo Ocean Race, giving the waterfront a packed and lively atmosphere. A market is held every Sunday.

Outskirts of Southampton

Just a twenty minute drive from the centre of Southampton, or alternatively a short train or bus journey, is the start of the New Forest, which is not to be missed. Covering some 145 square miles of woodland and open heathland, it is a place of true beauty. There are numerous attractions to be found, such as Furzey and Exbury Gardens and the Beaulieu Motor Museum, to name a few. A good way to explore is by bicycle which, if you don't have your own, can be hired in Brockenhurst. There are hundreds of places to walk, picnic and enjoy, whilst trying to prevent the New Forest ponies from eating your sandwiches!

Weather

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Avg. High 45° 46° 50° 55° 61° 66° 70° 70° 65° 59° 51° 47°
Avg. Low 33° 33° 35° 38° 43° 49° 52° 52° 48° 44° 37° 35°
Mean 40° 40° 43° 47° 52° 58° 61° 61° 57° 52° 45° 41°
Avg. Precip. 3.5 in 2.4 in 2.6 in 1.9 in 2.2 in 2.1 in 1.6 in 2.2 in 2.6 in 3.2 in 3.3 in 3.5 in

Fahrenheit temperature scale is used.